Pastor preaches of healing at church attended by mother who killed young sons

Monday, April 5, 2004 TYLER, Texas – At the church where Deanna Laney once ministered to youth, sang in the choir and spoke in tongues, worshippers Sunday prayed for her and her family a day after she was acquitted by reason of insanity of bludgeoning two of her young sons to death.

Members of the Pentecostal First Assembly of God church turned to their faith to cope with killings, which Laney said God told her to commit.

“We’ll probably never know really why it happened,” said Joe Jackson, 69, a former deacon of the church and friend of the Laney family. “I know she’s got some time to serve though to pay for the things that she’s done but I think the Lord will be with her and carry her through this.”

Pastor Gary Bell preached about hope amid despair to his congregation of more than 100 people, and said he will continue to stand by Laney and her husband, Keith.

“You’re going to make it. I said you’re going to make it. By the grace of God, we’re going to make it,” he preached.

Some of Laney’s relatives attended Sunday’s service and were consoled afterward by church members. They have declined to give interviews.

A jury found Laney, 39, did not know right from wrong in May when she killed her two older sons, ages 6 and 8, in the front yard and left the youngest, now 2, maimed in his crib. Laney would have received an automatic life sentence had she been convicted of capital murder.

Laney likely will be committed to a maximum security state hospital. Medical evaluations will dictate when she will be released. She remained at the Smith County Jail pending a hearing Tuesday regarding her transfer.

Speaking to reporters Sunday, Bell said he believed the jury did the right thing by not convicting Laney.

“Everyone in this situation is a victim, everyone,” he said.

Faith in God is helping a “weary and traumatized” family cope, he said.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Associated Press, USA
Apr. 5, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday April 5, 2004.
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